What would Gwyneth do? Not sure how this turn of phrase came about but this is a ‘thing’ on social media; and while I think she certainly knows how to rock a frock and has some very cool friends, I’m not sure I see her as an aficionado of anything in particular, but then again these things do tend to take on a life of their own in these days of twitter, instagram and the ilk.
I do often use the expression though, only depending on my mood I replace the Gwyneth bit with one of the many writers who inspire me.
You see, I like to write.
I have never really given much thought to whether I am any good at it.
I just like to write.
And it is a privilege to be spurred on by so many greats.
Dr. Seuss taught me that just because a word is not in the dictionary does not mean it is not a word. The art of whimsy came to me by way of Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis, not that this was a happenstance for I was born a dreamer but reading their books stretched my imagination beyond the world I was growing up in.
Jane Austen instilled in me the premise of the sisterhood and the strength which came from within that bond. Through the steely yet passionate character of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte gave me a heroine of my own sex to admire; whilst the autobiographical storytelling by Maya Angelou taught me that the heroine or rather shero I should believe in was me.
A spiritual awakening of sorts came by way of The Alchemist and more poignantly By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. These works of Paulo Coelho along with much of his work throughout the 90s resonated in my soul, even though it would still be another decade before I would consciously walk my spiritual path.
Speaking of spiritual awakening, when I read this sentence ‘Davie brightened up as the insidious comfort of the plum jam stole into his soul’ written by Lucy Maud Montgomery (in the second book of the Anne of Green Gables series), I had my first epiphany about the power of words to evoke emotion for this one sentence stole into my soul and still remains there today.
The discovery in the importance of the structure of a sentence came from the journalistic stylings of Ernest Hemingway and Joan Didion. Bryce Courtenay’s stories interwoven against a historical backdrop ignited my interest in history. The poetry of Paolo Neruda versed me in romance in a way Keats and Byron had failed to ignite. F. Scott Fitzerald taught me to love a narrative, Kipling gave me my love of prose, from Tolstoy I learnt perseverance and from Wilde irony. On and on it goes for many great writers have lived and still do today.
In my wildest dreams I could never wish to be as good as them nor do I aspire to be, as I said I just like to write. Sometimes though when inspiration is not forthcoming and I suffer bouts of writer’s block I call upon these maestros and say to myself what would (insert here) do? If I feel melancholy I ask what would Dickens do? If I feel a want for romance I ask what would Neruda do? And eventually from no thought comes my muse and I know in no small part that it is down to invoking the spirit of the said writer. Got to love those winks from the universe.
And lastly before I leave you, I couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon, especially as it is my favourite magazine – Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair… simply stunning #yougoGIRL #BeautifulMomentinHistory